Asia-Pacific FTTH council holds its third annual conference
There doesn't seem to be any let up in FTTH/FTTB deployments in Asia-Pacific. For the first time we have a country, South Korea, that has more FTTH/FTTB connections than DSL connections, and Japan is soon to follow. 'See the Light' was the theme for this year's Asia-Pacific FTTH Council's annual conference.
The keynote speaker, Zamani Zakariah, Senior Director of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), spoke about Malaysia's high-speed broadband (HSBB) project. The MCMC is currently in negotiations with Telecom Malaysia (TM) for subsidizing the rollout of FTTH/FTTB over the next three years. Telecom Malaysia has been appointed by the government to participate in its public-private partnership to roll out HSBB infrastructure and services. The first phase of the project is for a ten-year period. The first part of phase one is to connect 1.3 million premises with FTTH or FTTB by the end of 2010. The total investment is to be MR11.3 billion ($3.46 billion), with the Malaysian government investing MR2.4 billion ($736 million) and TM investing MR8.9 billion ($2.73 billion) of its own money. The country of Malaysia is divided into three zones and this first rollout is targeted for zone 1, which has a high population density as well as being in the high end economically. Zamani stressed that this network will be open access and with fair access pricing and competition among all service providers. Zamani's talk was followed by the Group CEO of TM, Dato' Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa, who reiterated the information presented by MCMC but did add that all subscribers will receive a minimum of 20Mbps. He said that after phase one it would begin “Broadband for the General Public (BBGP)”, which will deliver 2Mbps and will consist of both wired and wireless networks.
The three FTTH councils consolidated their latest global ranking of the economies having greater than 1% household penetration of FTTH/FTTB. The results were presented by Colin Goodwin, a member of the board of directors of the Asia-Pacific FTTH Council, and showed 14 economies having greater than 1% penetration. The top four positions are held by Asia-Pacific countries: South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. Asia-Pacific alone accounts for more than 80% of the world's 32 million connected homes. Even though Europe has been slow (compared to Asia-Pacific and North America) to adopt FTTH technology, it has seven countries in the global ranking. The US has the fastest-growing FTTH deployment rate among all countries and ranks tenth, with 3.3 million homes connected. This is in large part due to Verizon's aggressive FTTH FIOS program.
An operator's perspective and experience was presented by speakers from Korea Telecom (KT) and France Telecom (FT). Seo Gwang Ju, Head of KT's Network Division, called its FTTH deployments the “first one-mile project”. He said KT will invest another $1.3 billion to reach 92% FTTH coverage by 2010. He didn't say if that would be homes passed or homes connected. South Korea has traditionally been largely FTTB, with over 80% of deployments falling into this category. Going forward most of the investment will be towards FTTH. Gwang Ju also said KT is interested in reducing the number of COs from 400 today to 200 in 2012 and to 50 by 2015. He expected FTTH/FTTB deployments to facilitate that goal.
Thierry Valette, Technical Director of Orange's FTTH project, talked about what Orange is doing in FTTH. France Telecom launched the Orange Labs network about 18 months ago. It is FT's ambition to brand itself to the world as an innovative telecommunications operator which delivers innovative, user-focused services to its customers in 220 countries and territories around the world. FT's rollout of FTTH is broken into three phases, where phase one was an initial field trial with 1,000 customers launched in 2006 and finished in early 2007. Phase one did include providing IPTV service to its customers. Phase two, launched in March 2007, is what they called a commercial offer or a pre-rollout to a larger number of customers in larger cities. This initial rollout provided triple-play services with 100Mbps downstream and 10Mbps upstream for €45 per month. FT now charges €48 per month for this service. It is now in the planning stages of how to move into phase three, which it calls massive rollout. The eventual goal is to provide a 100Mbps symmetrical service for €20 per month. The plan for 2008 is to have 1 million homes connected by the end of the year. In addition to France, Orange has FTTH projects in Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Spain.